APTOS (KPIX 5) — Hundreds of elementary students in Aptos won’t return to their classrooms until next year in the wake of storm damage to two roads leading to their school.
One road is collapsing while a landslide is blocking another.
Valencia Elementary has been like a ghost town since this winter. Its classrooms are empty and its playground deserted.
The children who once attended the school here have been scattered to other schools in the region, part of the long, lingering aftermath of this winter’s wet weather.
“We have two washouts on Valencia Road above here,” said school neighbor Ben Post. “And if you bring in a school bus and the road fails, you have the potential of losing a school bus down a ravine.”
Two major mudslides have damaged the road to the school, and that’s before you get to another collapsed, crumbling stretch of road near the entrance to the school.
Valencia road failed after a culvert — a large, metal pipe under the street — caved in, causing the road above to collapse.
For people living nearby, what was once a short trip into town is now a long detour.
“I used to be able to walk to the post office. It was three-quarters of a mile. But I don’t do that anymore,” said area resident Suzanne Nickel.
But the greatest impact has been to the students at Valencia Elementary. Those children are currently being bused to three different campuses depending on their year in school.
“It’s really disruptive to the parents who may have their kids at two or three different sites,” explained Nickel. “Because the little kids are at one school, the middle grades are at the high school and the oldest kids are at Cabrillo College.”
The school district hopes to reopen Valencia in the fall in time for the new school year, but only if the storm damage and roads have been repaired.